The Yankees today are receiving some bad press over the way the team may or may not have handled the rain delay last night. Matt Gagne of The Daily News runs through the story, and I’ll summarize.
Last night, the Yankees delayed the start of their game against the Red Sox by over two hours. Fans hung around the new stadium, and as the fans awaited the start of the game, little word came from the fans. At around 9 p.m., some stadium employees — those workers holding the “How may I help you?” signs — told fans that the game had been postponed.
At that point, fans started to leave. A few minutes, while many were still within earshot of the stadium, the team announced a 9:22 p.m. start time. While the fans had already exited, many went back to reenter only to be denied. At Gate 6, fans and cops got into heated discussions and a few fights broke out. One fan was arrested for assaulting a cop, and a Daily News photographer who caught the melee on camera was threatened with a revocation of his press credential.
This afternoon, I asked for comments from fans at the game last night. The stories from the stadium paint a picture of poor communication between the Yanks and their employees.
Cory Sobov was one of the fans who left after receiving erroneous information. Sobov and his friends had been hanging around the stadium for two hours when his dad called. Sobov’s father told him that the DirecTV feed and MLB.com were both reporting a postponement. “We waited another 15 minutes for an announcement and then asked a ‘How may I help you?’ person if the game was called or not,” Sobov told me. “He said it was going to be postponed. They just haven’t announced it yet. So we left.”
Sobov has since written an e-mail to the Yankees to complain. He wasn’t, however, alone in his experiences. Alan Borock had a similar story to tell but with a happier ending. The Yankees have a system in place where Yankee staff will respond to text messages, and Borock tried to use this tool to find out when the game would start.
“At some point during the delay, my brother sent a message to the staff just to see if there were any weather updates,” he said to me via email. “They sent us a text message back saying that the game had been canceled. We asked again a little bit later for a clarification and they then told us it was just a delay, not a cancellation. Either way, we stayed through the entire game.”
Now, despite these tales of a disconnect between some Yankee employees and the official word, others have a different story to tell. According to one fan who was hanging around near the Yankee team store at Gate 6, the Daily News story isn’t an accurate retelling of what went down. This fan wished to remain anonymous but talked about his interactions with security. “People were specifically being told that there would be no re-entry’ he said. “I know this because I asked, and that they were being told on the way out that the game had not been canceled.”
This fan could see one of the giant TV screens near Gate 6. At the time fans started to leave, both that screen and the one above center field still said “Rain Delay” and no announcement had come over the PA system. This fan wondered why people were leaving based on information from anything other than the Yanks themselves. “Anyone with half a brain would really know that the ushers and gate keepers have no input into whether or not a game was going to be called and they wouldn’t have any knowledge of the situation before an announcement was made over the PA system,” he said. “That is basically like asking the hot dog guy if the game is going to be rained out.
“It seems,” he continued, “that once people got outside and realized that the tarp was coming off of the field and the game was close to starting that they all tried to get back in and a pissing match ensued. I am usually not on the side of the security staff that the Yanks have in place, especially the old crew at the old park, but I have to say that they were letting people know that if they left they could not get back in.
Other fans wrote in to tell me that the Yankee guards at some gates were allowing reentry after the fact. While Jason Zillo denied this to the Daily News, it seems as though the Yankees and their employees were not on the same page last night.
In the end, Ross at New Stadium Insider summed this all up. “Everyone is a little bit wrong here,” he wrote this morning. “The Yankees are wrong for having an antiquated re-entry policy and poorly trained employees. The poorly trained employees are wrong for dispersing false information to fans. The fans are the victims here, especially those duped by the ‘How May I Help You’ people. However, they are still wrong for leaving the stadium before seeing an official announcement from the team on the high-definition scoreboard, and then for assaulting police officers outside of the stadium. Wrong, wrong, wrong.”
With rain falling in New York right now, the Yankees and their fans have a chance to go through a rain delay all over again today. Hopefully, this time, the team, the employees and their fans will all get it right.